Back injuries slow Gomez, Holcomb at Tulsa

June 11, 2011 | 2:01 am | 1  

Double-A Tulsa shortstop Hector Gomez, whose development has been slowed by frequent injuries, is on the disabled list with lower back soreness. (In the minors, it’s a seven-day disabled list). Doctors do not believe this injury is related to the stress fracture Gomez, 23, had last year in one of his vertebrae.

Gomez is hitting .205/.242/.381 with seven homers and 27 RBI along with 10 walks and 53 strikeouts in 215 at-bats. He last played June 4, and because of Gomez’s back history, the medical staff didn’t want Gomez to have any activity for a week.

Tulsa outfielder Brian Rike, 25, was activated Friday and pinch-hit and grounded out sharply in the Drillers’ 10-9 loss in 10 innings at Springfield. He fouled a ball of his right knee June 1 and missed eight games. Rike took the spot on the Tulsa roster held by third baseman Darin Holcomb.

He went on the disabled list Friday with the back trouble that caused him to miss the entire 2010 season and that the Rockies feared would reoccur. Holcomb, 25, is hitting .254/.329/.381 with four homers and 22 RBI in 189 at-bats. While he was a freshman at Gonzaga in 2004, Holcomb was diagnosed with spondylolisthesis, a condition where one of the vertebrae (L5) has slipped forward and is causing damage to the below it (L4). Surgery isn’t an option as long as Holcomb wants to continue playing.

During the offseason, Holcomb said he hoped to get to 70-80 percent effectiveness, enough to be able to play and go from there. At the outset of this season, Holcomb told InsideTheRockies.com, “There’s always some pain. I still have some leg pain and some shooting pains and some hip pain. But it’s all manageable and controlled. And that’s really all I can ask for. My goal and hope is that it stays manageable, and it has been.”

Obviously, that is no longer the case. Before Holcomb’s condition worsened in spring training 2010 to the point where he went to a rehab facility in Phoenix and missed the whole season, he said his back typically regressed as the season went on.

Triple-A Colorado Springs outfielder Jeff Salazar was released Thursday June 9 when came off the disabled list. Salazar, 30, spent his first five professional seasons in the Rockies organization and returned to it this year. He played in 30 games and had just 64 at-bats with the Sky Sox, hitting .234/.395/.406 with three homers and nine RBI.

His release was less about performance than the roster number. When Alfredo Amazaga accepted his assignment and returned to the Sky Sox, it gave them a versatile switch-hitting infielder capable of playing in the outfield. Salazar bats left-handed, which also worked against him, given that Carlos Gonzalez, Seth Smith and now Charlie Blackmon, all left-handed hitters, are with the Rockies and left-handed hitting Tim Wheeler, a highly regarded outfield prospect, is at Tulsa.

Finally, Greg Reynolds will start tonight _ Sat. June 11 _ for Colorado Springs. It will be his first game since the Rockies optioned him Wednesday to make room on the active roster for pitcher Aaron Cook.

Rookie Casper and short-season Class A Tri-City will begin mini-camps today at their ballparks. Tri-City opens its season June 17, and Casper’s begins play June 20.

1 Comment »

  • Julian | June 11, 2011 | 2:34 pm

    That’s too bad about Holcomb. He has worked really hard to be a ballplayer, and it appears that his body is betraying him.